Every year when NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) rolls around, I stand on the sidelines like an outcast kid, watching while everyone else gets to play. Because let’s face it — if there’s an inconvenient month to write 50,000 words, it’s November. (Actually, 50,000 words is nowhere near convenient, no matter the month.) That’s why when I found out that the New Zealand group Kiwi Writers claimed June for their own novel-writing month, I waited and debated and finally signed up. June’s still a busy month (and, blast it, it still has only 30 days instead of 31 like some months I could name — yes, I’m looking at you, January), but at least it doesn’t contain Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations. Not that I have cause to whine, since I’m cheating anyway; I only have about 43,000 words to go on my current book, instead of 50,000. Even that means 1,434 words per day, however, with no days off. I’m nervous and excited and already counting down the days until July.

Pain, suffering, and daily writing sound like a good way to spend the next month? If so, check out the Southern Cross Novel Challenge (SoCNoC). It’s free, and includes access to forums with a wealth of resources and plenty of people to encourage you. You can even friend people, since this is the age of social networking. (My user name is caryn.) Plus you don’t have to be a Kiwi, since New Zealanders are a welcoming sort.

Even if you don’t join, feel free to throw a few tips my way in the comments for this post. I could use some. (And, no, Don’t do it! doesn’t count.)

In other news, I seem to remember that there was a contest on here a few days ago, for which debut author Jess Riley donated a copy of her new book Driving Sideways. Well, this afternoon Random.org declared Ilana Stephens the winner! Please visit her blog and congratulate her. And if you haven’t picked up your own copy of Driving Sideways, rush right out and grab one because it’s a wonderful read.

P.S. Someone e-mailed me today (Tuesday) using the link on the left-hand sidebar. My stats tell me that they filled out the form, sent it, and got the thank-you screen, so I know it wasn’t spam. However, I had an e-mail glitch (which is now fixed, thank goodness!) and did not receive it. Could you please try again? I don’t handle suspense well, and I’m dying of curiosity. I just know you were writing to tell me I won a million dollars or you want to give me a book deal or something. That’s it, right? Right?